More ante-post advice from the master punter
There is a cracking mix of group races and some big handicap prizes up for grabs this month and the bar is set pretty high on September 4 with the Group One Betfair Sprint Cup at Haydock Park.
This year’s winner has a brilliant roll of honour to live up to including the outstanding Moorestyle, the queen of sprinting Habibti along with the likes of Green Desert, Ajdal and the super fast Dayjur. All those winners came pre 2000 and to be fair the calibre of sprinter has not been as high in the last 21 years with arguably the outstanding sire Invincible Spirit being the pick.
If the ground is good or quicker for the 2021 renewal it is hard to get away from the July Cup hero Starman who was ultra impressive at Newmarket.
I find it hard to decipher why he ran in the Maurice de Gheest last time out on deep ground, a surface his trainer has told all and sundry that he doesn’t act on. So we can readily upgrade his length and three quarters third to the prolific winner Marianafoot.
He is sure to be priced up accordingly and on his chosen surface it is difficult to see him going off any longer than even-money.
Still, there must be a good chance that we get softer ground at the Merseyside track and it may well be worth having an each-way play on something else under such conditions.
That could bring into play a most unlikely contender in the form of the former 150/1 Royal Ascot winner, NANDO PARRADO. Winner of the Coventry Stakes on good ground as a juvenile, connections have tried to stretch his stamina out to seven furlongs and a mile since, but with little success.
His latest run came in the Hungerford Stakes at Newbury where he blasted off under Adam Kirby and simply had no chance thereafter of seeing out the seventh furlong. It was to his credit that after running like the proverbial runaway steam train he was only beaten a shade over five lengths by the eventual emphatic winner Sacred.
If the son of Kodiac does line up here it will be only the fourth time in nine career outings that he has run over six furlongs and by those figures he is still unexposed over the trip, won’t mind what the weather does and is way too big a price to ignore in what looks a weak division this year,
The final and oldest classic of the season is run on September 11 and Godolphin have had a stranglehold on this St Leger market courtesy of Epsom Derby and King George winner Adayar and their most likely representative Hurricane Lane.
So the boys in blue are certain to have the favourite for the longest classic of the year, but there are several interesting alternatives, many of which are housed by Aidan O’Brien.
One of the least exposed and well worth a second look has to be the 40/1 shot INTERPRETATION. If there is one thing we have learnt it is that Aidan is not afraid of sending three-year-old lung buster.
This son of Galileo has made good progress in his second season following just the one run as a two-year-old at the back end of 2020. In his second season, he has sauntered to victory in a mile and a quarter maiden at the Curragh followed by victories in the Kingdom of Bahrain over 13 furlongs and then a really eye-catching success on August 12 in the mile and three quarters Vinnie Roe Stakes.
That day he lengthened in impressive fashion from two furlongs out and in the end ran out a cosy winner under Ryan Moore. On that form he has about a stone to find with those at the top end of the market, but I would anticipate he will take another huge step forward here and I suspect he will start no longer than 16/1.
The VirginBet Ayr Gold Cup on September 18 presents a very different task for us punters to unravel and of course predicting the outcome.
At this early stage I am looking at the likes of BIELSA (given a strange ride in the Stewards Cup at Goodwood), the lightly raced four-year-old AINSDALE and HEH JONESY.
The first named raced all on his own down the centre of the track at the ‘Glorious’ meeting which must have been a huge disadvantage before finishing a close up sixth beaten merely two and three quarter lengths. Soft ground is an advantage for this speedster and he still looks fairly weighted off a mark of 98.
Ainsdale loves to get his toe in and although his handicap rating of 105 remains on the high side he has run some cracking races at Group Three and Two levels.
Former Wokingham winner Heh Jonesy has been hard to catch right since that 2020 Royal Ascot win, but showed he was no back number when racing away from the winning pack in the Stewards Cup eventually being beaten five lengths into 10th.